The Answer @ Academy 3
Anthony Firmin goes in search of The Answer and discovers Picturebooks
This was the first date of The Answer’s tour as well as being album launch day so this was going to be an interesting gig. A full bill with three bands, the first of whom I had never even heard of - you can tell I do my research well before I go to gigs - but in some ways that is part of the fun of it all.
The Picturebooks were the first band up, a German duo who met on a skateboard park and recorded their debut album in the garage alongside their motorbikes… I kid you not. The band are part of a current trend whereby there is just a guitar player and drummer – they did have a bass player but chose not to replace him when he left. Where this band are different is their combination of highly distorted slide guitar sounds from Fynn Claus Grabke who also sings into the pickups of his old beat up guitars, who along with Philipp Mirtschink who plays big, big drums with no cymbals, creating almost a slow marching beat, hitting his drums so hard they seem like they are about to go through the stage. This band play intense, individual blues rock that is highly infectious.
Live, the band provide a grittier rendition of their music. Songs like PCH Diamond and The Rabbit And The Hole gripped me like mechanics wrench that wouldn’t budge and I was hooked, mesmerised. Their 30 minute slot was way too short and flew by far too quickly. They are a band who were so very different to what was to come that evening, but were also so right. I needed a drink to recover from that performance and to prepare myself for the rest of the gig.
Norwich lads Bad Touch, a band with their own painted vans and a singer with a moustache Johnny Depp would be proud of, have a 70’s sound with songs like Bring It On Back To You which was very similar to Led Zeppelin. Other songs sounding like Thunder and the Black Crowes. The band are a very tight unit and with a singer whose vocals are crystal clear they certainly made waves tonight. Last song Too Little Too Late was an uptempo rocker which left everyone on a high. My friends were so impressed they bought the bands CD. Personally I think they need to work on an individual sound that is them rather than trying to sound like everyone else, but they have everything else so it is just a matter of time.
It is a surprise that The Answer are not huge considering the promotion, media support and high calibre support slots they have been given over the years as well as their own regular touring. And Manchester is their favourite city to play but tonight Academy 3 is not sold out – why?
The Answer started strongly with the anthemic Long Live The Renegades followed by Spectacular which had a swing and a groove that showed their diversity. Red from the new CD was well received, many in the audience knew the song as it had been the first single. The songs are classic rock – If I Could Change Your Mind had lots of light and shade and Ear To The Gutter was a real bruising blues rocker. Another new song Last Days Of Summer was longer than the album version because “the boys are enjoying themselves with it” according to singer Cormac Neeson, featuring a great echoey guitar solo too.
Raise A Little Hell was the highlight of the set with singer Neeson going into the audience to sing and managed to get everyone to get down on the floor “get way down low, dig up that dirt and raise a little hell” – huge drama but the crowd loved it; the song also featuring a great voicebox guitar solo from Paul Mahon.
The set was strong as was the bands performance. I cannot answer as to why The Answer are not bigger than they are, they deserve to be. After all, rock’n’roll is not that complicated!
Words: Anthony Firmin | Photos: Phil Goddard